“We have at least 10 - 15% of clients that repeat every year” - Manager of the Hotel Helios, Jose Maria Garcia Mondragón.
After 10 years working in the Hotel Helios, Jose Maria Garcia Mondragón took over as Manager in May of this year. Jose Maria was born in Zaragoza and came to Benidorm many years ago after completing his military service and graduating from the Tourist School in Zaragoza. He arrived in Benidorm with just a rucksack and a dream of a professional future in the town. Now he is at the forefront of the Hotel Helios which is currently under renovation, with a strong team and a high percentage of satisfied clients that return year after year.
What made you come to Benidorm to pursue a professional career?
While I was studying at the School of Tourism in Zaragoza, one of the professors stated that Benidorm was every thing a tourist destination should not be. This fascinated me. When I arrived and saw the diversity of what was on offer in the area and the atmosphere, I loved it and decided to stay.
So the expression better to be talked about badly than not to be talked about at all applies?
They have talked about Benidorm being a saturated tourist destination for years and it was classed as such 22 years ago. In those days there was a lot less here than there is now but in fact it is exactly the opposite. By building upwards the resort is much more sustainable. If everything was constructed horizontally the area from Alicante to Valencia would be completely built up.
How have you structured the hotel to ensure maximum customer satisfaction?
I have only been manger for two months but have had the incredible good fortune that I inherited a magnificent team from the previous Manager Sr Casases, and they have made the transition a lot easier for me. I believe that honesty, humility and courage are very important today , you cannot sit back and hide, we must face things head on, stay abreast of the latest trends and technologies.
How many members of staff do you have and have there been any changes to the team due to the economic situation?
We have 64 staff members, obviously there has been a reduction but a large percent of our staff have been with the company for many years. If we need more staff at certain times of the year we generally employ temporary staff from an agency.
From your experience, is it true that hotel staff in Benidorm are way ahead of other tourist destinations
Yes, Benidorm leads the way with regard to standards i.e hygiene, prevention etc and demands much more from its hotels than in Palma or Cataluna for example.
The Rincon de Loix area is normally associated with the British tourist. Are there more foreign clients in the hotels in this area?
No. Up until three years ago 70% of the tourists were British and approximately 20% Dutch or Belgium. Now there has been a drop in the number of British visitors and a growth in the number of Spanish. There are hotels in the Rincon de Loix area that are dedicated exclusively to the Spanish and Dutch market. Obviously the British identify with this area and therefore frequent the hotels in this area more than the ones on the Poniente beach or in the centre of Benidorm.
New technology like the internet for example allows the client to familiarise themselves better with the resort and the accommodation that they are to visit and even to read comments from other visitors . Has this influenced clients’ requirements?
Absolutely, but we shouldn’t be afraid of this. If we work hard and improve daily then we should not fear these new technologies. There are of course times when some opinions are negative even ridiculously negative but if you do things well clients do appreciate it. These negative criticisms also allow you to correct things that are going wrong, for example as a result of one of these comments we are renovating 8 rooms for people with mobility problems and it is proving really popular.
The hotel has a Web page, has your position on the search engine improved?
Yes, ever since we started including information such as excursions, concerts, national and local fiestas and sporting events in the area our position has improved.
What leisure activities does the hotel offer?
There are different activities on offer depending on the time of year. During the winter the activities are designed towards retired visitors and during the summer months geared more for children. In the winter we offer dance classes, keep fit and aqua gym in the heated swimming pool, board games, bingo and in the evening professional shows with live music. In the summer there are weekly parties and lots of activities for children.
What percent of clients repeat?
We have at least 10 - 15% of repeat clients every year. Some of them have been more than ten times. Customer satisfaction is extremely important and we have been gaining the confidence of second generation guests.
Undoubtedly the renovations to the hotel will increase client satisfaction. How is the work progressing?
We are completely renovating the hotel in stages. We have approximately 33% of the rooms finished and by June we hope to have completed the work and then upgrade to a four star hotel.